In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water, yeast, and sugar, if using, in a bowl. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes, until it gets foamy (this means the yeast is active and ready to go).
Add the bread flour, olive oil, and salt, and mix briefly with the dough hook to roughly combine, then fit the stand mixer with the dough hook and knead the dough for 10 minutes on medium low speed, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Shape the dough into a ball, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, which should take about 60 minutes in a warm kitchen.
Lightly flour a board, shape the dough into a ball or rectangle, and divide the dough into 16 pieces.
Roll each piece into a long rope about 5-6 inches long, then tie it into a knot. If the dough is hard to tie because it's sticky, roll the cut part in a little bit of flour to make it easier.
Once you have tied up all the dough, split the 16 knots between two baking sheets lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Cover well with plastic wrap, a towel, or a lid (this baking sheet with a lid is one of my favorite kitchen things I’ve ever bought). Let the dough rise for about an hour, until doubled in size and puffy.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, and prep the garlic butter by microwaving the butter until melted, and stirring in the garlic powder. Brush the knots with the garlic butter.
Bake the garlic knots one sheet pan at a time for 8-10 minutes in the lower third of the oven, until lightly golden on top. To check that they are done, they should read 195 on an instant read thermometer, or you can just tear one open. Enjoy!