up to a certain point; that point passed
“Haven’t I told you not to befog yourself with studies?” he wanted to know. “It should go slowly up to a certain point; that point passed, it can’t go too fast. You are simply puttering; I know that as well as if I had seen you do it. The remedy for this is to stop puttering, but to stop it in favor of work. Go home, and get to work.”
Nancy swallowed hard.
She stowed her drawings hastily away, and went downstairs. Avoiding her sitting-room, because his picture dominated it, she took refuge in her bedroom. In lieu of work she spent the day at little feminine employments, puttering things which had long awaited her leisure. Another day she would go to work in earnest; meanwhile, she could make herself believe that she was not wholly wasting her time.
Elizabeth Frances Corbett, Puritan and Pagan (1920)
Nancy is a painter, or struggling to be so.
Elizabeth Frances Corbett (1887-1971)
see the concise and informative entry by Heddy A. Richter (including sources), at encyclopedia.com.