Re: CMYK to Pantone process
You can always open Illustrator's Pantone library and visually select the Pantone swatch that is closest to your CMYK mix on the monitor. Until you see a hard copy proof or a use a Pantone swatch book, it's going to be tough to get what you actually want since you're dealing in the two different worlds of RGB on your monitor vs. the reflective properties of ink on paper.
To answer your second question, there is no reason that you couldn't create your vignette in Illustrator once you've determined what spot colors make up each end of it. I would caution you however that if your job prints more than two spot colors or if you are adding CMYK to your two spots, you might want to be careful to ensure that the printer has enough screen angles available to avoid a moire pattern.
By the time I walk out of here, I'm going to be a lean, mean, prepress machine...