Portland is known as the country’s DIY (“do it yourself”) capital: we grow our own vegetables, brew our own beer, build our own bikes, and so on. And with the recession still hanging on and perhaps money still a little tight, a cheap alternative to buying a gift for relatives, loved ones or friends this holiday season is making your own gifts. (Or giving gift certificates for DIY experiences.)

Business owners offering DIY classes and other services laud DIY-gift giving for its creativity, uniqueness and the satisfaction of learning a new skill or craft. “The time that goes into creating a gift, I think, makes it more meaningful,” says Cheri Clark, the owner of Naked Sheep, a north Portland knitting store.

There are numerous places all over Portland where one can learn how to brew beer, roast your own coffee beans, make cheese, knit, crochet, sew, create jewelry, or a zine, magazine, or comic. Here are some of them:

Mr. Green Beans

Learn how to roast your own coffee at Mr. Green Beans

Co-owners and husband-wife team Trevin and Ginny Miller are long time DIYers. Trevin lost his job within the last year, and the Mr. Green Beans concept had always been at the back of their minds. Last July, they opened their Mississippi storefront and are now sharing their love and passion for DIY with others. Mr. Green Beans currently offers classes teaching people how to roast their own beans twice a week, as well as soap making classes. “People are really excited about it,” Trevin Miller says. The couple hopes to soon offer classes in kombucha brewing, canning, preserving, and other DIY skills involving “fermentation.”

Miller says there are a lot of misconceptions about roasting your own coffee, or cheese making—that it is difficult, laborious, or time consuming. But, he says, it only takes less than an hour to learn how to roast coffee, and three hours to make your own soap. That skill stays with you a lifetime. And with a pound of coffee costing $6, and a $35 soap class where you leave with a two-pound bar of soap, DIY gifts offered by Mr. Green Beans are, Miller says, “inexpensive.”

3932 N Mississippi Avenue
Portland, OR 97227


Urban Cheesecraft Kit

Make your own cheese with the Urban Cheesecraft Kit.

Claudia Lucero will tell you that one does not need caves or mold to make their own cheese. What you do need are cultures and rennets that react with the dormant bacteria in milk to thicken into cheese (not to mention some cheese cloth). Lucero, who has long been a hobbyist cheese maker, was surprised and dismayed when she could not find those ingredients locally (aside from making her own cheese, she is into local products, too).

Lucero and her husband Jeff began Urban Cheesecraft Kit, which offers cheese-making classes, as well as kits with all the ingredients and tools necessary to make “introductory, fail proof cheeses.” Those cheeses might be mozzarella, goat cheese, paneer, or ricotta. The kits Lucero offers range in price from $20 for a small kit that makes 40 batches of cheese, to a larger, $50 kit. “It would take a year to make all the cheeses,” Claudia says. It takes an hour or less to have fresh cheese ready to go. And Claudia says people won’t fail to be impressed when they receive home made cheese as a gift. “It has a little bit of a wow factor,” Claudia says. “It’s empowering for people to remember and take back a skill that has been handed over to larger companies.”

Find Urban Cheesecraft Kits at these local retailers:

Alberta Co-op Grocery
1500 NE Alberta Street
Portland, OR 97211

Cheese Bar
6031 SE Belmont Street
Portland OR 97215

Food Front
6344 SW Capitol Highway
Portland, OR 97239

Foster and Dobbs
2518 NE 15th Avenue
Portland OR 97212

Urban Farm Store
2100 SE Belmont Street
Portland OR 97214

Homebrew Exchange

Brew your own beer to give as gifts, Home Brew Exchange.

Offering classes twice a month, Homebrew Exchange provides the ingredients and teaches you everything you need to know about brewing your own beer. Co-owner Jocelyn Sabbri says you can make anything from pale ales to porters. “We teach the process,” Sabbri says. “Once you know the process, you can brew anything.” Sabbri says the price of homemade beer is slightly lower than beer bought from the store—another plus. Homebrew Exchange also offers classes teaching people how to make their own kombucha, cheese, wine, and soda.

1907 N Kilpatrick Street
Portland, OR 97217


Knit gifts this holiday season.

There is no dearth of knitting and yarn supply stores in Portland. Many offer classes to help newbies get started or more advanced classes for long-time knitters to learn new patterns. Socks, scarves, hats, mittens or a sweater—it’s open season with what someone can do with some yarn and one or two needles. “It’s a popular holiday gift,” says Naked Sheep Knit Shop owner Cheri Clark. Many stores hold classes multiple nights, and also happily host more informal knit nights where you can knit into the night with fellow knitters. Yarnia also allows you to customize your blend of yarn—choosing the texture, blend, color and amount.

Find knitting classes and supplies at these local retailers*:

The Naked Sheep Knit Shop
2142 North Killingsworth Street
Portland, OR 97217

2310 NE Broadway
Portland, OR

Urban Fiber Arts
428 NW 11th Avenue
Portland OR 97209

Yarn Garden
1413 SE Hawthorne Boulevard
Portland, OR 97214

4183 SE Division Street
Portland, OR 97202

*See our directory for the full list of Portland Knitting Supplies, Classes.


“You can sew anything,” says Modern Domestic co-owner Lupine Swanson. The possibilities with sewing truly are endless—you could give holiday stockings, curtains, quilts, pajamas, shirts, pants and anything else that can sewn together as a gift. “It’s still cheaper to buy [your own clothes], but people want to engage with their home goods more,” Swanson says. SewPo offers classes almost daily in how to use a sewing machine, intro to quilting, and how to make fabric diapers. Classes begin at $30 and increase depending on the number of sessions. Informal work time is also available. Modern Domestic also offers classes frequently each week beginning at $45 and up. Both also are open sew nights (or, as Modern Domestic puts it, “sew-cials”).

Find sewing supplies and classes at these local retailers*:

Modern Domestic
1408 NE Alberta Street
Portland, OR 97211

PDX Seamsters
1412 SE Stark Street
Portland, OR 97214

830 N Failing Street
Portland, OR 97227

*See our directory for the full list of Portland Sewing Studios, Fabric, Notions.

Independent Publishing Resource Center (IPRC)

Learn how to publish books, print cards, etc at the Independent Publishing Resource Center

The IPRC gives wordsmiths the space and all the material to publish your work, in any medium—including artwork, writing, zines, books, websites, comics and graphic novels. A zine or comic telling the story of a favorite family moment, or simply a story written by you that a family member would enjoy makes for a thoughtful gift. The IPRC’s workspaces and resources are available to any member of the community for $5 an hour. Classes are offered for beginners on everything from bookbinding to screen printing to design and publishing software.

917 SW Oak Street #218
Portland, OR 97205

DIY Mobile Kit

DiY Mini Mobile Kit

Glass jewelry maker Leah Pellegrinni offers you the opportunity to make a kinetic mobile using her “make your own mobile kit.” The kit, which costs $20, is contained in a small, clear plastic tube includes four wires with glass pieces, one swivel, a loose wire, one S-hook, three O-rings, and instructions for you or the person you’re giving the kit to. All one needs is a pair of pliers and 10 to 15 minutes to construct the mobile.

Portland Saturday Market
108 W Burnside
Portland OR 97209

Amy Wing DIY Charm Necklace

Amy Wing Designs charm necklace

Jewelry designer Amy Wing offers jewelry collections in silver and gold, as well as precious and semi-precious stones. She also offers jewelry DIYers the opportunity to make their own charm bracelets and necklaces. Separate pieces—such as chain, charms with letters, words, or objects (such as sea shells), semi-precious gemstones and clasps—and can be assembled at home. Go for something very simple with a few charms, or go all out and make a jangly bracelet with assorted charms.

Find Amy Wing’s Charm Necklaces on her web site.