the woman next to me told us yesterday. She pushed her chair back, started to push her knitting roughly into her bag and stood up abruptly. She was so close to tears that there was a startled silence from the rest of the otherwise lively library knitting group.
"You're not going?" someone asked.
"Yes! What's the bloody point of being here? I tell you I used to be able to knit anything! Now, I can't even follow a bloody simple pattern!"
I took a deep breath and said, "Well, before you go would you like me to have a look and see if I can sort the problem out?"
She hesitated and, taking an invisible deep breath, I said, "If you don't want to do it now then we can get together later."
I was thinking to myself, "I want you to sit down now and try again because you are too upset to go driving anywhere."
"Yes, come on - Cat will help," someone else encouraged. She looked at me and I knew she was thinking the same thing.
"Yes, give me the pattern," I told our upset companion, "You know the instructions aren't always clear."
I knew full well that the instructions were, on this occasion, perfectly clear but anything to stop her leaving in anger, frustration and tears.
She hesitated and then took the pattern out and pointed to the row.
There was an asterisk in it - an indication that you need to repeat the action from that point across the row. The instructions told her to do that but she was not reading them that way. I explained gently and said,
"Now, why don't you knit the row? I'll talk you through it."
At the end of it there were three rows of plain knitting. Yes, she could do that. We went on to the next instruction.
An hour later she had done eight more rows. It was time for all of us to leave.
"Don't do any more now," I told her, "If you are free on Tuesday afternoon come to the group at the bookshop. We'll do the next bit together then."
She claimed not to know about the group I teach at the bookshop but she actually came to it last time. She had no memory of doing that at all. I did not persist with the issue.
She took out her diary and put the time in. Still sounding a bit tearful she thanked me and left. One of the others, someone with some medical knowledge, and I looked at one another. This is not the first time this person has had problems with her knitting. What she is making is simple and the pattern is something a confident beginner could follow.
What bothers me - and the other person - is that this woman told us she "got lost" the other day and, on a couple of occasions, she has hesitated over simple words. When she left us yesterday she was going to drive for more than an hour to the far side of the city to visit her son. She would be coming home in the dark. She lives alone. I hope she didn't "get lost" again.
Tomorrow I will talk to someone else who knows her much better than I do and say we are concerned. It might be stress - we think her son lost his licence recently - or it might be early Alzheimer's or there may be something else wrong but yes, there is something wrong. The rest of us need to watch out for her.