I have found in pattern reading, it's best to keep your understanding simply. How would you say it if you wanted someone to work needle 2 and then stop? You'd most likely say, "ending with needle 2"
If you wanted them to stop after working needle one (in your question--"should I stop just before I knit needle 2?"), wouldn't you phrase it more like, "ending with needle 1" or "ending just before you start needle 2?"
I find that when I take the instructions step by step and very literally, I can often work right through something that sounds difficult at first glance.
Sometimes patterns are written so that if you read ahead a bit, it clarifies things as well. If your next instructions were something like "now combine needles 3 and 1," you'd know that you had to be ready to start on needle 3 for that to work...so you'd have to end after working needle 2.
Hope that helps. It's so hard to find wording that "speaks" to everyone! And what's clear when you're writing a pattern and know what you mean, isn't always clear to those of us reading and trying to figure out what the designer meant!