People—several of them bare-footed—were wearing flannel pajamas, puttering around in the chilly weather, preparing for bed.
"keep busy in a rather useless way," 1841, originally among farmers, alteration of potter (v.). Related: Puttered; puttering.
late 14c., "beast that pushes with the head," agent noun from put (v.). As a type of golf club used in putting, from 1743; see putt (v.).