It looks like things are “shaping” up just about right around here. The picture illustrates how laying out shows sides more even than the last post.
As theorized, I think vertical-strip-design was the way to go. Yay! The middle portion of my schematic is complete…despite an inequality between sides: the top portion is 116 sts, while the bottom is 115 sts. Don’t worry, be happy! This does not affect the other aspects of this design.
I am now working on the the left side; fortunately, the thinner faster side. I’m not looking forward to the right section. While the crochet seed stitch is simple, the monotony begins to bore me and I fall asleep or tire of crocheting; that right side looks daunting!