For instance, if a pattern says to use a provisional cast-on, you can look up "provisional cast-on" because it has a name and requires a specific set of steps. Same goes for k2g, kitchener stitch, Dutch heel and so on. Even if a technique has more than one name, it is still the same thing and if occasionally there's more than one way to do it, it will presumably produce a very similar result.
If, however, the pattern says something like "reverse shaping" things get a little unclear. Which parts exactly do you reverse? I once made a cardigan front and for the other front the directions said something like "do all that, but in the opposite way." For the designer, it may seem obvious what that specifically means, but for a knitter who hasn't made that exact pattern before, it may not be. What exactly do I do the opposite way? Do I use ssk instead of k2tog? Decrease on the ends of the rows instead of the beginnings? On the other piece I decreased on the right side, so now do I do it on the wrong side? For that matter, do I increase instead of decrease? Ok, that's getting a bit ludicrous maybe, but it illustrates my point. Add in a cable or lace chart, or maybe some colorwork, and the waters become even more muddied.
Cabled Baby Raglan and knit the first 4 rows, coming to the instructions "continue in pattern." She understandably had some questions, as 4 rows is hardly enough to establish a pattern. In fact, last summer when I made this garment, I ended up ripping back and starting again because I incorrectly interpreted that very part of the instructions. And I'm a fairly seasoned knitter who has read a lot of patterns, some of which were quite complicated. I realize that patterns are edited for brevity so they try not to be too wordy, but we need those words. They tell us what to do.
Now I'm not saying that every single row needs to be spelled out. But instead of "continue in pattern" it might be more clear to say "continue in stockinette with garter edge, increasing as set until you have (number) stitches." Instead of "work as for left front, but reversed," the instructions could say "work as for left front, but ssk instead of k2tog, and increase at the beginning of RS rows instead of at the end." See? That's not so hard.
Knitters, what do you think? Am I expecting too much of pattern designers? Have you run into roadblocks because of vague instructions?